Summer Soup

Leeks are a European staple that resemble a large green onion, with a mild oniony flavor, that isn’t of the onion family. It’s delicate flavor often gets lost under the shadow of potatoes in an American favorite, potato leek soup. Let their flavor shine by pairing with other summer favorites like corn and carrots. Here’s a soup recipe to try this week showcasing all three of these mid summer favorites. Continue reading

Consider the carrot

by Marykate Smith Despres, Salem Depot

There is little on this earth that is quite so satisfying as knuckling down in the dirt and pulling out the carrot which is ready to come. Just a bit of resistance before the smaller roots release with an audible crackle you can feel through your fingertips, and the taproot slides out. Until this moment, the carrot has lived a subterranean life. A tiny seed that stretches itself in two directions in yogic form – root down, rise up – its leaves are tens of tiny hands reaching each finger out to the sun, soaking it in and sending it down to create a stronger and stronger base. The root, for its part, pushes out against the inside of the ground. Water is sought. More roots form. Little ones like the fins on a whale seemingly too small to steady, but they do. And if it were to have eyes, I believe the carrot would be blinded by the sun as it slipped from the earth, would meet its fate following the light.

 

The Last Carrot Cake Recipe You’ll Ever Need

by Marykate Smith Despres, Salem Depot

Who doesn’t love carrot cake? Sure, it’s technically a dessert, but it has fruit, nuts and vegetables, so that makes it kind of healthy, right? This is the best carrot cake recipe you will ever come across. It’s adapted from the fabulous Dorie Greenspan.

for the cake:
2 c all purpose flour
2 t baking powder
2 t baking soda
2 t ground cinnamon
3/4 t salt
3 c grated carrots (about 9 carrots)
1 c coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
1 c shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
1/2 c moist, plump raisins or dried cranberries
2 c sugar
1 c canola oil
4 large eggs

Tweaks: I don’t use quite as much sugar and coconut as called for. I’d say I use about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of sugar and 1/2 to 3/4 cup of coconut – anything more is just too sweet for me, especially considering that this cake has frosting. Also, I always use walnuts and raisins, not pecans and cranberries. Though sometimes I use walnuts and raisins and cranberries, depending on what I have on hand.

Preheat oven to 325. Mix oil and sugar until smooth. Add eggs. Add flour and powders. Add chunkier dry ingredients last. The cake bakes for 40-50 min.

for the frosting:
8 oz cream cheese, at room temp
1 stick (8 T) unsalted butter, at room temp
1 lb (3 3/4 c) confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 T fresh lemon juice or 1/2 t lemon extract
1/2 c shredded coconut

More tweaks: Again, I reduce the sugar – to anywhere from 2 to 3 cups – and completely omit the coconut from the frosting.

In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter and cream cheese. Slowly add sugar and, if you’re using it, coconut and beat until smooth. Mix in lemon juice or extract last.

Frost your cake after it’s completely cool. Dorie frosts her carrot cake in layers, but I save it all for the top and sides.

This recipe makes a nice, big cake and I find we just can’t (or shouldn’t) eat it all unless we have friends to share it with, so I often adapt this recipe to make cupcakes instead. (Cupcakes are nice and portable and, I have found, tend to get eaten off a staff room table more readily than slices of cake). Simply pour your batter into greased muffin tins and bake at the same until cupcakes are firm and a knife, when stuck into the center, comes out clean.

 

Carrot Tahini Heaven (Or, The Healing Salad)

We should talk about this. Now, this little baby? I make it a lot. The first time I made it for Michael, he asked me to make it again, immediately. As in, for lunch the next day. If you know him, you’ll know he doesn’t like repeating foods that often.

The reason I love this is multi-fold: 1) It’s just really good. It’s crunchy, salty and sweet. 2) It’s versatile. I have subbed out the carrots for everything from kale to cucumber and broccoli and mixed up everything in between and we love it every time. 3) It’s really good for you. The properties in this salad are very healing. Let me extol the virtues.

Carrots are full of vitamins A and C. These are good for reducing inflammation, increasing bone metabolism and of course, it’s good for your eyes. (Remember when Michael had laser eye surgery? I fed him this for sure. It’s no joke that carrots are good for your eyes!).

Walnuts may be high in fat, but it’s “good” fat. And depending on how you like your diet macros to be, you’ll need some fat anyway. It keeps you feeling full longer and fat in the form of walnut is full of antioxidants.

Turmeric is what gives curry powder its distinctive yellow color. The benefit (depending on what you read) is vast. My dad’s oncologist even suggested he eat more turmeric, curry and ginger because of their healing properties, anti-inflammatory qualities, and possible increase in cell reaction to chemotherapy. Studies have shown a reduction in alzheimer’s disease in populations who consume turmeric, and it’s been known to help with arthritis.

What’s the wonder in tahini? Hidden source of calcium. I know, and I thought it was just a plain old delicious fat source and an ingredient in hummus. Not so. It’s full of B vitamins and a tablespoon is about one third of your daily requirement of calcium. With bones to heal up in our house – we need more calcium!

Aside from that, I pretty much always have these ingredients in the house – including raisins and parsley. I love fresh herbs. So, this is my go-to meal when we have nothing else left in the cabinet. Tends to happen on Wednesday, because Thursday is shopping day, of course.

And if you don’t have carrots, I recommending chopping up whatever you have on hand and just slathering on the tahini dressing. It’s so good, I can’t even really contain myself.

I got the recipe about a year ago from Lunch Box Bunch. I have made it just as directed, with and without tofu, with and without nutritional yeast and so forth. I mainly make it the way I’ve listed below.

Here’s what you do:

  • carrots, cut into matchsticks (how many depends on how many people you want to feed. You can just adjust the dressing accordingly later)
  • raisins
  • chopped walnuts
  • parsley

I kind of use a ratio of 5 carrots to 1/4 of raisins and a couple tbsp of walnuts and a palmful of parsley. That would feed both of us, with a protein of some sort on the side (I usually go for hard boiled eggs. My choice for muscle repair.). Adjust as you need to. Put everything into a salad bowl and get working on your dressing.

I use this ratio for one serving of dressing. Increase as you need to.

  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp sweet curry powder (I prefer Penzy’s, but you can use any kind you like – even hot curry)
  • salt and pepper
  • water (to fluff the tahini)

Add tahini, maple syrup, curry, salt and pepper (a pinch of each) to a small bowl. If you haven’t fluffed tahini before – it’s FUN! Add a little water and wisk it up. If it seems like nothing is happening, just keep going. The color will get lighter and the tahini will become thicker and…fluffier. Ha. I add as much water as I need to get a thick dressing consistency. Pour over the salad and mix it up.

That’s about it!

Asian Cole Slaw

By Sara Weisman, Salem Depot

I made a great cole slaw from this week’s kohlrabi and broccoli and thought I would share the recipe. The taste is mild, with sweet and piquant flavors. I served this as a side dish to cold sesame noodles and took both dishes to a picnic at the beach.
1 head kohlrabi, peeled
1 broccoli stem, peeled
1 carrot
1 Tblsp. rice wine vinegar
1 Tblsp. lime juice
2 Tblsp. canola oil
1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 Tblsp. sugar
salt and pepper, to taste

Use a food processor or hand grater to finely julienne the kohlrabi, broccoli stem, and carrot. In a separate bowl, whisk together the rice wine vinegar, lime juice, canola oil, sesame oil, and sugar. Toss the vegetables together with the vinaigrette and salt and pepper to taste. The slaw should be made at least an hour in advance so the vegetables have a chance to “pickle” in the vinaigrette. Garnish with scallions and toasted sesame seeds just before serving, if desired.